Despite last-ditch efforts to kill the project, mixed-income housing development Cypress Creek at Forest Lane is finally set for construction on a plot of vacant land in Lake Highlands.

The 2.85-acre tract of land, located at 11520 N. Central Expressway, is expected to be developed into a four-story midrise apartment building with a wrapped parking structure that includes 189 residential units, a coworking space and a dog park. At least 100 of those units would be reserved for low-income households that earn between 30% and 80% of the area’s median income.

What happened

During its June 14 meeting, Dallas City Council voted to allow the city to enter into a 39-year lease with the Cypress Creek at Forest Lane developer, allowing for the construction and operation of the apartment complex.

The approval came despite District 10 City Council Member Adam McGough’s final efforts to kill, or at least delay, the project. The June 14 meeting was McGough’s last meeting as the Lake Highlands representative, as he has reached his term limit. McGough, along with council members Casey Thomas and Cara Mendelsohn, voted in opposition of the project.

McGough will be replaced by Kathy Stewart, who told Community Impact, that she does not support the development of Cypress Creek at Forest Lane.

The backstory

Cypress Creek at Forest was first proposed to City Council in 2021, but the project has faced numerous setbacks, including deed restrictions, which allow only office buildings, hotels, motels and restaurants to be built on the property site. In May, City Council voted to acquire the vacant land to lease it to developer Sycamore Strategies to get the housing project developed.

Those opposed

McGough cited “basically unanimous” community opposition, threats of lawsuits against the city and the location of the project site itself as reasons for not supporting Cypress Creek at Forest Lane. He said the neighborhood isn’t safe for children to walk to school and that it lacks safe public transportation or grocery stores within safe walking distance.

“It’s disappointing," McGough said during the meeting. "I hate having to go back to my community and say, ‘You know what, your voice doesn’t matter.’”

McGough denied that his disapproval of the project is a sign of “NIMBY-ism” [Not in My Backyard], citing his recent approval of other affordable housing projects in his district, including St. Jude Center Vantage Point.

William Roth, the owner of a commercial office building adjacent to the project site, threatened to sue the city for violating deed restrictions if they moved forward with the project. Roth, as well as other nearby property owners, have previously threatened litigation, but the City Attorney has said that those litigation threats are not a consideration when City Council decides whether to approve a project. The city’s involvement with this project would make the deed restrictions on the property unenforceable, according to a memo from Assistant City Manager Majed Al-Ghafry.

Those in favor

Those who support Cypress Creek at Forest Lane have said the project will provide much-needed affordable housing in a “high-opportunity” area. ​High opportunity areas are regions within the city of Dallas where the census tract has poverty rates of 20% or below, according to the Dallas City Hall website.

David Noguera, director of Dallas’ Department of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, said during the meeting that the site for Cypress Creek at Forest Lane was initially selected because of its surrounding amenities. The property is near several retail services and high-performing schools, as well as a Dallas Area Rapid Transit station within a quarter mile.

“One of the biggest challenges that we have in locating housing in this city is making sure that that housing does not sit on an island, that that housing is in close proximity to job centers,” Noguera said. “When you look at the employers that are around this site, those are some ideal sites that residents of this project could be drawn toward.”

Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn King Arnold noted McGough’s concerns about safety but said the challenges he mentioned are the same as those that any underserved community faces. She said the benefit of providing affordable housing to low-income residents outweighs the potential risks, including those of litigation.

“You have the right to sue for whatever it is you want to sue for, so if folks want to sue us, bring it on,” Arnold said during the meeting. “I’m not afraid to fight. If you want to go to court, dress up and let’s go.”